Positive: Cavs continue to show fight
This would have been a really easy game for the Cavs to roll over in. The Miami Heat got out to a large early lead, and seemed to respond to every Cleveland bucket with a three of their own.
But the Cavs responded cutting the lead down to five early in the first half. Then after the Heat appeared to have run away with the game, the Cavs cut the lead to 10 with about seven minutes left in the fourth quarter.
The late run can likely be attributed to the Heat taking their foot off the gas. However the Cavs have consistently shown this season that they will continue playing hard until the buzzer sounds and took advantage of the reduced effort.
It appears as though the team plays like each possession takes place at 0-0. They work hard every possession and look to get better with every opportunity. The team improved their effort and attentiveness of defense as the game progressed and it helped them get back into the game.
This was a letdown game after a great performance in Philadelphia, but it’s a great learning experience against a team who’s play the Cavs likely want to emulate.
Negative: Brutal night for the starting lineup
This was the first game of the season where the Cavs starters did not provide consistently solid play. They allowed the Heat to get out to an early lead and struggled on the defensive end.
Turnovers were a major factor in their struggles as well, as the unit was uncharacteristically sloppy.
Truth be told, the Cavs were probably due for a game like this. It can happen to any team, but considering the youth Cleveland features they should probably be particularly susceptible to lapses like this.
Growth isn’t linear and the Miami Heat play hard and are exceptionally well coached. This has been a problem in matchups between these teams in the past and it shouldn’t be a surprise here. What really matters is how the Cavs respond to this game and learn from it.
Very negative: More injuries to a depleted front court
Larry Nance Jr. appeared to have injured his hand dunking in the third quarter. Per John Beilein, he reinjured his left thumb. Any absence for Nance would be a crushing blow to a Cavs team that’s already incredibly thin at his position.
It’s been noted many times that the on off numbers haven’t been good for Nance. But a lot of that has had to do with his situation. Plugging a lesser/inexperienced player into that tough position like Dean Wade or Tyler Cook would be asking A LOT and likely result in struggles for the team overall.
Hopefully Ante Zizic can return to the lineup soon, to at least provide the team with a more experienced replacement. John Henson would help too. But any extended absence for Nance is going to put a lot of strain on a thin roster.